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Muslim women challenge patriarchal marriage code

Tired of living in a world governed by marriage laws formulated and implemented by men, Muslim women in India have come out with their own Nikahnama. It recognises their right to seek divorce and other entitlements so that they are the masters of their own destiny.

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Muslims demand more resource allocation

A budgetary allocation for the welfare of minorities in the union budget for the financial year 2008-09 is far short of expectations, say Muslim organisations, who recently held a demonstration in the Indian capital to demand a better deal from the government.

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Include women in governance agenda: Women's Charter Against Poverty

To mark the International Women's Day, Indian anti-poverty network Wada Na Todo Abhiyan has released a report highlighting the recommendations of the Women's Tribunal Against Poverty held in October last year. The charter against poverty reinforces the demand for women's access to power, resources and services.

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More women working than ever before, says ILO

A new study by International Labour Organisation says that the number of employed women has grown by almost 200 million over the last decade reaching the figure of 1.2 billion. Decent and productive employment is crucial in the process of creating greater equality between men and women, says the report.

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Involve farmers in global seed wealth, say NGOs

The newly-opened Global Seed Vault (GSV) at Svalbard in Norway is being criticised by Indian and other NGOs for excluding farmers from its institutional framework. Farmers being the first link in the food chain, should be involved in conserving genetic biodiversity, they argue.

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9% for health and education still a distant dream

There was a clear absence of vision in the union budget presented to Indian Parliament on February 29, says Wada Na Todo Abhiyan – a national campaign by civil society organisations. It says that the government has once again sidestepped the crucial issues of health and education.

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Indebted small farmers in India get a reprieve

India has announced its budget for the next financial year. In a move to provide a major relief to the small farmers, the government has decided to cancel their entire debt. It may be noted that for past many years now the farmers have been committing suicides due to indebtedness and other related reasons.

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NGOs feeling unsafe in Pakistan

International non-governmental organisations in Pakistan have come under considerable pressure after an attack on a UK-based Plan International office in Mansehra near Islamabad, in which four people had died. In recent years, threats have been directed against NGOs and their staff, particularly women.

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Afghanistan: Scars of violence

Hundreds of children who had witnessed a blast in Afghanistan’s Baghlan city last November are still traumatised, suffering from paranoia, dizziness, stress and sleeping disorders. Health experts are of the view that children in the conflict-affected country are at risk of suffering deep scars of war.

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Bangladesh: People suffering due to Emergency

It’s been more than a year now since the State of Emergency was imposed in Bangladesh. More than 250,000 people have faced arrests during this period. The Asian Legal Resource Centre has documented numerous cases of arbitrary arrests, often carried out at a scale that is difficult to fathom in many other countries.

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A case of legal eligibility versus social ineligibility

When a dalit widow was appointed as cook in a government-run school in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, no one was ready to eat the food cooked and served by her. Everyone conspired to sack her and saw to it that she was never reinstated.

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Half the world’s population will live in cities by the end of 2008

The latest UN projections say that by the end of 2008, half of the world’s 6.7 billion people will live in cities. All three factors: natural increase, migration and reclassification of rural localities to urban centres will contribute to this increase. Most of the future urbanisation will happen in Asia and Africa.

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Release Dr Binayak Sen, says IAWS

The Indian Association for Women’s Studies (IAWS) has appealed for the release of Dr Binayak Sen, a human rights activist and a pediatrician, who has been in jail for the past nine months. In its resolution the IAWS has also demanded the repeal of Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act.

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Nepal: Respect child rights, say UN agencies

Amidst confirmed reports of children’s involvement in violent activities in Nepal, the UNICEF and the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights have issued stern warning to all political parties. They say that the country must take steps to keep its children away from harm and respect child rights.

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Afghanistan’s livestock sector shaken due to freezing cold

More than 300,000 animals in Afghanistan have become prey to cold temperatures, severely devastating the livelihood of local farmers. Such extreme weather conditions are causing unprecedented miseries in the country, where more than 900 people have died due to cold this winter.

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Nepali gays to contest polls

At least five Nepali gays will contest elections for the Constituent Assembly, scheduled to be held this April, to take up the issue of discrimination against their community. In a nation that treats homosexuality as illegal and immoral, this is an attempt to fight exclusion.

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Nepal: Mounting ethnic tension may lead to humanitarian crisis

Fears are being expressed that Nepal can face a serious humanitarian crisis. Ethnic Madhesis – who suffer from extreme poverty, unemployment and lack of citizenship – are on an indefinite strike since February 12 demanding a separate region for themselves. Essential services remain disrupted and the situation can only worsen from here.

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No more SEZs in Goa

Struggles against Special Economic Zones are labeled as ‘anti-development’ by middle class India. Yet Goa’s recent anti-SEZ campaign was led by educated professionals, activists, the church and media, forcing the state government to backtrack. The SEZ is an independent foreign territory with no local or government control, say Goa’s champion campaigners.

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Insure poor against extreme weather events, say experts

Insurance can help the poorest to cope with the consequences of global warming, say development experts. Paying small premiums than raising money after disasters is a better way to minimise damage. Insurance managers however say the frequency of droughts and floods can weaken such claims.

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Child survival calls for target-specific policies

With nearly 10 million children dying every year around the world, how does it matter even if GDP growth shoots up? Research reveals that the issue is not about inadequacy of resources among developing countries, but lack of effective policies that can translate economic growth into development outcomes for the poor.

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